The craft and hobby industry is booming, reaching the $30 billion mark in the U.S. alone. Online resources and marketplaces like Etsy have made it incredibly easy for almost anyone to turn a hobby or creative passion into a business. But with so many of these businesses popping up daily, it can be a challenge to make one really stand out.
Still, Anne-Marie Faiola, a former correctional officer, has managed to build not just one, but two successful handmade businesses, Bramble Berry and Handmade Beauty Box.
Both businesses were inspired by Faiola’s passion for soap making, which started when she was just 16 years old. During her years as a correctional officer, she began selling her handmade soap. And she enjoyed small business ownership so much that she decided a career change was in order.
But Bramble Berry isn’t just another handmade soap retailer. Faiola liked the idea of helping other entrepreneurs and soap makers, so she created the business to provide soap ingredients and supplies. She set up a website and funded the business using credit cards in 1998.
Then, after more than a decade of growing her company, Faiola got another idea. She often used crafting subscription boxes to save time in buying her own supplies. And she knew of a lot of people who were interested in soap making, but didn’t feel like they had the time or knowledge to get started. So she decided to start a subscription box for soap making and similar beauty supplies.
For Handmade Beauty Box, Faiola turned to Kickstarter for funding. And thanks to a carefully planned strategy and some word of mouth, she ended up raising more than four times the original goal.
While almost anyone can start a handmade business, this type of success isn’t easy to come by. Faiola had a few key ingredients that contributed to the sustainability of both businesses. She had the passion and knowledge about soap making. She also had a unique idea of providing supplies for hobbyists and other entrepreneurs, rather than just sticking to selling a singular finished product like so many others. And she put the hard work into making both businesses a success.
While running a handmade business can certainly be fun and rewarding, Faiola cautions fellow entrepreneurs not to forget about those all-important business aspects.
“Treat your business like a business. Even if it’s something you’re doing because you’re passionate about it, you still need to put food on your table,” she explained in an email interview with Small Business Trends.
But no matter how much entrepreneurial savvy you have, the passion and personality of handmade businesses is often what sets them apart. And it can be a challenge sometimes to separate yourself from your business, because of this, Faiola says.
“There is so much personality and passion that you put into your own handmade business; you pour yourself into projects and really imbue your craft with a little piece of your creative soul. So, when someone doesn’t want your product, the rejection can feel very personal,” she ads.
Still, those who can maintain that professional distance, like Faiola and so many other creative entrepreneurs, have been able to make a living doing what they love.
Images: Bramble Berry